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The lowdown on travel insurance

These are the basics you need to know about travel insurance for your adventure, from first-hand experience.

Travel insurance is something you absolutely need when you’re hitting the road outside your own country, short-term, and long-term.

Yes, it’s all about the adventure; yes, it’s about doing crazy, wild things you’ll never tell your mother about; yes, you’ll be doing dumb shit that you know you shouldn’t.

But, not getting travel insurance shouldn’t be one of them (edit based on feedback: that’s a double negative, you idiots).

If your $1000 camera gets damaged or stolen, you’ll be glad you forked up the $15 a month fee to get it reimbursed. That’s another reason why there is no reason not to get it, by the way: it doesn’t cost that much.

Your possessions are not the main reason you need travel insurance. If you break a bone, get into a car accident, or (accidentally) put someone else in the hospital, you’re completely fucked if you’re not insured.

This rings true when you’re in a civilized country, because the bill is likely going to be beyond what you’ll ever be able to afford. Your average ambulance ride costs at least a thousand bucks. A week in the hospital will easily cost you more than ten grand.

This is also true when you’re in a third-world country, because unless you get the best of the best there, you’ll probably end up in a place where they saw your leg off if you have an eye infection.

It cannot be stressed enough: travel insurance is not optional. It’s an absolute necessity.

With that said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

The truth about travel insurance companies

You need travel insurance when you get in a speedboat crash
These guys were sure glad they got some good insurance! (Video source)

Forget the promises, the nice photos, the beautiful website, and the glorious reviews.

Travel insurance companies are the same as any insurance company: scumbag organizations whose business model is based around one objective: finding an excuse not to pay out your claim.

When it comes to making a claim, the power lies in preparation.

Before and after you sign a contract, be sure to read every single condition in there to understand what you need to give to them when things go bad.

The rule of thumb is: you can’t ever have enough paperwork when you find yourself in a situation that should make you eligible to make a claim.

In other words: get a receipt for everything.

Make sure you have scans of the original receipts of all the gear you have with you. Even though you’re far away from home right now, they will ask for them.

End up in the hospital?
Get the doctor’s bill, the anesthesiologist’s bill, the administrative fees bill, the bill for meds they gave to you, and whatever other paperwork they can print out for you.

Keep it on paper, and take a picture of it with your phone. OfficeLens is a fantastic free application for scanning documents with your smartphone. Download: iOS | Android | Windows.

Also, record the dates and times you went there. If you’re with friends, have them write a little statement about what happened where and when with their autograph on it with the date of signing.

Got something stolen from you?
Go to the cops preferably on the same day and get a police report. Get a written statement from people who were around you when it happened. Get a written statement from the hotel/hostel you’re staying at if it happened there.

Laptop/phone/camera got damaged or broken?
You’ll need to find a professional to write an official assessment report on the damage. Include the serial numbers of your gear. Scan it, and send it along with your claim.

Bottom line:
You can not have enough things to back up your story, because they will absolutely nail you on some bullshit technicality if they can. Make sure you don’t give them a chance to.

Insurance companies are for-profit organizations. They are not your friends and they’ll do everything to avoid paying out your claim because it negatively affects their bottom-line, simple as that.

And you need them.

Don’t ever travel without proper insurance.

Don’t be stupid.

World Nomads are the go-to guys with a good reputation.

It should go without saying: don’t ever make a false claim. Only losers do that kind of shit, and on top of that, insurance fraud is a felony in most countries.

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About Diederik

Diederik is a guy from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He quit his job when he was 29 years old and traveled the world for over 18 months as a digital nomad and bartender. On this website, he posts his travel photos and experiences, records podcasts with interesting people, and shares his general thoughts.

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High-quality content is added to The Polarizer at irregular intervals. If you don’t want to miss anything, sign up for the mailing list for free to get a notification when new podcasts or articles are posted.
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